C03 - Culture-Specific Human Interaction with Tropical Lowland Rainforests in Transformation in Jambi, Sumatra

The research sites in Jambi, Harapan Rainforest and Bukit Duabelas, are characterized by various forest transformation systems: forest conservation areas, small scale agriculture, jungle rubber, rubber plantations, palm oil plantations. These sites are inhabited by socio-cultural groups of different origin and with diverse livelihood systems: village-based autochthonous Melayu and Jambi Melayu people, forest based Orang Rimba and Bathin Sembilan people as well as migrants and transmigrants, sometimes with a semi-urban background, from other islands (Steinebach 2009). The anthropological project deals with cultural diversity in Jambi and people’s differing interactions with tropical rainforests These interactions range from substantial dependency on the forest (hunter and gatherers) to occupancy of niches involving some level of forest use (e.g. combined with shifting cultivation) up to deforestation for other types of land use (agriculture, plantations) or forest conservation.
The anthropological project (C03) aims at identifying the major encompassing cultural factors that influence decision making processes in regard to forests and their transformation from a comparative perspective on the one hand. This will be done by considering the interplay of various factors such as religion, social organization including gender, economics, norms, politics, knowledge, formal education as well as expectations and hopes people have for their future; to explore peoples' own awareness and point of view will be an important asset. On the other hand, the project will investigate the effects the transformation of tropical lowland rainforest and associated regulations have on the people, their attitudes to tropical lowland rainforest and their culture in general.
The theoretical framework of this project is provided by approaches from environmental anthropology that investigates human-environment relations from a constructivist perspective and defines nature as a social category (Soper 1996).

from left to right: Dr. Stefanie Steinebach, Dr. Rosyani and Prof. Dr. Hauser-Schäublin